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How to Run a Blog Competition [CASE STUDY]

Blog-Competition-1-1Last week I wrote a couple of posts about how to run a successful blog competition. Today I thought I’d give you a little background information (case study) on how I’m currently running one.

The competition is over at DPS where I announced it about 12 hours ago with a post here at Win a Digital Camera! [Forum Competition] (feel free to enter if you’d like to).

Using some of the points in my recent post on running successful blog competitions here’s how I’m approaching this one:

Objective – to get new members, reconnect with inactive members and increase page views. My hope is that running a competition over 3 weeks will give members incentive to return to the forums over a longer period of time – they say that it only takes a few days of doing something to form a habit – my hope is that doing something for three weeks will do just that.

Prizes – Last year I ran a similar competition with the same objectives but put photography books up as prizes. My thought this year is that a great new camera would probably excite people a little more. While the last competition did have some great results this one is really creating much more buzz.

Having runners up prizes increases the chance of a win. While they are not as valuable I’ve gone for ‘relevant’ on all of the prizes yet am giving runners up some choice in which prize they win.

I’ve also opted for a self funded prize in this case. I’ve had sponsors on DPS offer prizes previously but this limited what I could offer in terms of relevancy. Doing it this way also means I can promote some Amazon affiliate links which will hopefully drive some sales and help me off set the cost of the prizes.

Rules – I’m attempting to keep this competition as simple as possible. All people have to do to enter is be an active member. Every post they make in the forum automatically adds to their chances to win. I’ve used this method before and it works well as it not only gets new members signed up – but it gets them using the forum.

There is a danger with people entering in spammy ways – but last time I did this I made it clear that that kind of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated and didn’t have any issues. I have a good moderation team who are onto any bad behavior pretty quickly so am not expecting any trouble.

Promotion – I’ve been promoting this competition in a few ways. Obviously there is a blog post, I’ve also posted an announcement in the forums that appears at the top of many pages as well as posting a post that announces it in the general chit chat section of the forum.

Later today I’ll also email all inactive forum members and on Friday the normal DPS newsletter will go out with a prominent promotion of the competition. All in all there’s some good buzz going on already.

Results (so far) - Since starting the competition 12 hours ago the forums have been particularly hot with 100+ new members, quite a few older members coming back to get active again and a marked increase in page views. There are around 4 times the normal visitor numbers on the blog at the moment.

It’s too early to tell what the results will be as I’m yet to complete the promotion of it – but the early signs are that it will be a worthwhile venture.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. roger says:

    Hi Ladies & Gents,
    Slightly off topic but what are the latest opinions on sponsored themes i bought a custom theme with resale rights but have decided not to use it! Would you offer it as a prize and add your link to the footer or should i add a link in my footer and just offer it for free download to get link’s?

    I’m in the business of Scuba Diving so do you have different opinions if I use this way for promotion than say if it was a make money online blog?

    Hi Darren sorry to hijack this thread but I would REALLY be interested to hear from your customer base and their opinions. If not then please delete the comment, I wont be offended :(

  2. How do you count the number of posts on a forum for so many members?

  3. Good tactics, especially the length that the contest will run. I hope you see some killer results, Darren.

  4. Collin LaHay says:

    Congrats on the case study. I just announced my never-ending blog contest today and I will post case studies after it ages a bit.

    There are also about 15 good contest blogs that you can submit to (a few pages in Google will show you them). I will probably make a post listing them all soon.

  5. I’m sure this will really boost your activity. I enjoy digital photography but have just visited your site for the first time, so it worked on me.

  6. Darren Rowse says:

    not sure what you mean Tim? I keep track of stats on the back end of vbulletin if that’s what you mean?

  7. Its hard to promote when you dont have such an established reader base as yourself.

    Any tips there?

    RT

  8. Blogetition says:

    RT the fitness guy,

    I’ve noticed a similiar problem myself – small blogs holding great competitions but virtually nobody entering so I decided to create blogetition. Basically we list all the blog competitions we can find, this way we can match up those hold competitions with those wanting to join them and win some fabulous prizes.

    If you have a competition yourself, RT, I’d recommend submitting it to the site and hopefully you’ll see some extra traffic/participants coming your way.

  9. Darren Rowse says:

    RT – it is difficult. I would probably advise to scale it back a bit in terms of prize and concentrate on the readers you do have. You might also consider writing some more linkbait type posts to draw new readers into your blog where they’ll see a competition.

    one mistake I see bloggers making is launching a ‘big’ competition with massive prizes when they don’t have a big audience to justify it. Start with a small giveaway – then build from there. I write more about this in the previous competition posts.

  10. Neil Duckett says:

    I have one of those cameras, mine is actually the Japanese model seeing as i live in Japan, the 2000 IS, Fantastic Camera indeed.

    http://neilduckett.com/new-canon-ixy-digital-2000is-i-want-one/

    I ran a competition giving away my less than 12 month old IXY 1000.

    Also, having a look at DPS i see you have noted it as 12.7meg whereaas it’s actually 12.1 … a typo no dounbt but saves people asking questions later.

  11. Steven York says:

    “one mistake I see bloggers making is launching a ‘big’ competition with massive prizes when they don’t have a big audience to justify it. Start with a small giveaway – then build from there. I write more about this in the previous competition posts.”

    I’ve seen that done too Darren, offering a Playstation3 or something to kick-start their blog without having a sufficient delivery method to get the message out there.

    It’s all well and good having a wicked competition ready but if you’ve got no network to announce it to, it’s not going to go very far. Unless you take it viral by offering people more chances to win by referring more friends – that can work.

    Provided you have a few readers to begin with that is.

  12. Darren,

    http://www.alistercameron.com/2007/04/11/case-study-how-to-run-a-great-competition-on-your-blog/

    This is a case study I write last year on the same matter.

    By all accounts, this competition ran really well, but I’ll let Paul Marek, who ran it, tell you himself in a comment here or elsewhere.

    To those who say you can’t do it if you don’t have Darren’s “network”… think again. A Digg front page or various other “attainable” viral/marketing strategies are up to your creativity and “genius spark”, not the size of your network.

    Anyway, a good idea will get promoted by the Darrens of this world to their networks, anyway… just look at the buzz around the manilamac.com site and product at the moment!!

    - Alister

  13. Paul Marek says:

    Hey Darren;

    Glad to see you still feel contests merit use as a form of traffic dev, and I’m sure, links – despite what others have said.

    We launched our NEW site just over 1 year ago. We had no visitors, a very small budget ($1000) and no income. But, with all this against us, we launched a contest with over $6000 in prizes because I knew it could pay for itself in the long run (by the time it came to pay up!).

    Well, it did that, and much more. Within nine months we had a PR6, and by the time judging the contest came around, our traffic was sufficient to pay for the awards with two to three weeks of visitors. The rest was profit. We now have over 20,000 links in Yahoo, several hundred in Google, and traffic is over 15K pageviews per day.

    Basically, our idea was to have a contest for bloggers to write about their home improvement project, with a single criteria of providing a link to any helpful resource on our site.

    We had over 100 entries (disqualified 40 or so), and got all kinds of links and traffic from contest directory sites we submitted our contest to. We also provided ‘Vote For Me’ buttons for contestants to add to their site, to link to their entry on our site – this drove lots of traffic too. :) We made great relationships with a few high profile websites to be our judges, many of them linked to us too… We also hired Eric Ward to provide his URLWire service, got some ReviewMe reviews…

    And the rest is very profitable history.

    I highly recommend a WELL PLANNED contest for generating exposure, interest, traffic and links. Trust me. A poorly planned contest will have you emptying your pockets before you can say, “George Bush sucks – vote for Ron Paul!”

  14. “not sure what you mean Tim? I keep track of stats on the back end of vbulletin if that’s what you mean?”

    Yeah, pretty much – How can you do that in vB on a user by user basis? Then how do you pick the winner? I assume you’d be looking at 1000′s of “entries.”

  15. Blake says:

    O what I would do to get just 100 RSS readers (or any type of readers) on one of my Blogspot or WordPress blogs.

  16. Sentp says:

    What are the laws & regulations regarding holding a contest? I am in Australia too, so, could you point me in the right direction?

  17. Yulius says:

    Thx for your case study. I’m new blogger and I’m glad to learn from you. Can’t wait for your another posting…

  18. Darren Rowse says:

    Tim – I use a random number generator to help me narrow down to particular threads and then the # commenter on those threads.

  19. Ah… smart man! ;)

  20. Natasha Call says:

    Thank you for the series of blogs on this topic. I will strategize for my blogs to increase traffic this way. I read Problogger consistently for all of my blogs. Thanks for all of your advice.

    http://clickonthenatdotcom.blogspot.com

  21. There’s a whole list of links to contest blogs you can submit to on my site. Might want to use this as a resource if you are running a blog contest.

  22. Ruchir says:

    I don’t think you need a big readership in order to have a successful big contest. Take winningtheweb.com’s example. He recently ended his huge contest on a successful note. His prizes were a review on John Chow and John Cow and he only had about 20-30 readers then. Of course he had to pitch bloggers and spend money in promoting his contest, but he did gain 200 readers in one month as a result of the contest…